About Chinese Cresteds

by Keri K. on August 26, 2011

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As the owner of two Chinese Crested dogs, I’ve answered a lot of questions and interpreted a lot of odd looks from people meeting them for the first time. Luckily, I love to talk about my dogs! Here’s what I end up telling people the most.

Mo, left, and JP

Mo, left, and JP



Yes, they really look like that all the time. Both Mo and JP are the Hairless variety of Chinese Crested, meaning they possess a recessive gene that is expressed by a single coat of hair in varying amounts. Mo is very hairless indeed, with only a sparse amount on his head (crest), feet (socks), and tail (plume). The rest of his body is nothing but soft bare skin.

JP, however, is what Crestie fanciers call a “Hairy Hairless.” He’s still technically hairless, but the gene is not expressed so strongly. He has a much longer, silkier crest and plume than Mo, and grows patchy peach fuzz on his back and sides that never gets longer than an inch or so. I run clippers over his body once a week to keep him looking neat, but it’s not exactly a major grooming operation.

Can we go in now?

Thanks for the matching sweatshirts, now let's go in.

Chinese Cresteds also have a “Powderpuff” variety, which has a long double coat. Both Hairless and Powderpuff dogs can be born in the same litter, because all Hairless dogs carry the Powderpuff gene.

Yes, they get cold in winter. They have less body hair than some people, after all! Right next to the coat rack in our house is a whole hanging row of dog clothes. I’m not one for putting my dog in sundresses or hair bows, but I admit I get really excited over coordinating collars with dog boots with four-legged pajamas (and you better believe they make winter hats just for dogs, too).

Because he’s missing some teeth! The Hairless variety is prone to having fewer developed teeth, as well as often needing existing teeth removed at a relatively early age. (Powderpuffs have totally normal teeth.) At the age of 6, both my dogs have had most of their teeth pulled. They don’t require any different kind of a diet, and both of them have enough molars left to destroy a SmartBone or a pig ear. But because of the missing teeth, JP’s tongue has the tendency to peek from the side of his mouth, especially while he sleeps.

Yes, they’re the “ugly dog” breed. This one always makes me smile. It’s true that several winners of the annual “Ugly Dog Contest” have been Hairless Chinese Cresteds or Crestie/Chihuahua mixes, usually of advanced age.

Mom says we're beautiful.

Mom says we're beautiful.

They’re not actually from China. It’s thought they originated from Africa, but genetic testing suggests they’re related to the Mexican hairless dogs. Either way, Cresties traveled the world on ships as vermin hunters, and the Hairless became popular during plagues – maybe because they have less hair in which disease-carrying fleas can hide!

They’re “Velcro dogs.” I’ve been asked before “so what do they do?” and my answer is… some dogs hunt, some dogs guard, and Chinese Cresteds love. They dote upon their people. Mo in particular can’t stand to see an empty lap, and has been known to hop into a chair with a total stranger and promptly take a nap. If my husband or I leave a room, they’ll always get up and come along, even if it’s just to curl up again in the next room.

Our Cresteds are extremely sensitive to human moods, and absolutely hate it when one of us is upset. Because they’re happy when we’re happy, they’re also quick to learn new behaviors and tricks. Their favorite reward is sleeping on the bed with us, and they love to cuddle under an arm and share the pillow. Our Chinese Cresteds are just fantastic companion dogs!

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Keri is a lead catalog designer for Drs. Foster and Smith and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UW-Stout. She shares a small home with her husband, two Chinese Crested dogs, two cats, two ferrets, several reptiles and amphibians, and 30-some gallons of freshwater planted aquariums. See more articles by Keri K.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie A. August 26, 2011 at 8:34 am

Love this post Keri! I think your dogs are beautiful too!!!

Rosemary August 26, 2011 at 9:24 am

Punk Puppies!!! I love them. They are so unique looking. I can’t have one, though, as they are too small to stand up to my 8 year old son, who is autistic. He tends to treat the cats and dogs as toys, and I have to be careful that he doesn’t get too rough with them. I’ve even had to put a padlock on the crate the kittens are in.

I know Cresteds need coats in the winter, but I’ve heard they also need sunscreen when they are out in the sun, because they will sunburn.

Do you know if there is any evidence that they are also related to the Peruvian Inca Orchid dog?

Morgan L. January 5, 2012 at 8:55 am

I live with four of the little darlings, 2 naked, 2 powderpuffs. I’ve never had a dog with such personality! I will always have Cresteds (you can’t have just one! They’re potato chip dogs…:) ).
Nice article and your babies are beautiful!

linda keery March 20, 2012 at 3:53 am

do all chinese crested act autistic? They r very smart but i think they r so smart they don’t care!

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